Roberto Jiménez Rivera - School Committee At-Large

We are about to reach a turning point for our schools. We have a new Superintendent, and I believe the State Legislature will do the right thing and reform our unequal education funding system this year, which will allow us to transform the future of our school system with up to $33 million in additional funding for the coming years. I have already been active in advocating for the PROMISE Act this year and, if elected, I will continue to fight for Chelsea at the local and state level in whatever ways arise.

Should I be elected, I have three goals for my tenure: (1) improve college access for Chelsea students, (2) develop a student-centered assessment system that de-emphasizes high-stakes testing, and (3) center our students’ cultures, races, and identities in their school system.

Increasing College Access

I’ve seen time and time again how poor students and Latinx students face extra barriers to get to college. I did too—I only succeeded because I was fortunate enough to receive significant financial aid to attend the University of Michigan. That allowed me to focus on my studies instead of having a second job (although I did work at a library my first two years and in a dining hall the following two!)

I believe college should be a possibility for everyone. I will work hard to make sure that our students believe this, and that if they decide not to go to college, it is because they have made an informed choice and not because they don’t believe in their abilities. I will use my knowledge of college admissions to improve and expand Chelsea’s college access programs.

 Emphasizing Student-Focused Assessments

Conventional metrics would have us believe that our schools are not good (Real estate websites claim Chelsea High scores 2 out of 10.), but I believe conventional metrics are wrong. Even though there are always areas for growth, many good things happening in our district aren’t being counted. There are ways to assess our students that allow them to show us what they have learned through hands-on classroom experiences integrated into their daily work. I would like to bring these to Chelsea and shift our focus away from high-stakes standardized tests and the MCAS. These tests don’t reflect what the real world is like, and they ignore the person who best understands students’ needs and progress, their teachers. Student assessment should be teacher-led and student-focused, so we can best understand what our students need and support them throughout their educational journey.

Creating an Engaging Learning Environment

I love learning, and want our students to feel the same way. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. When teachers and students share a similar lived experience, students are more likely to remain engaged. And when students see their cultures or histories reflected in their curriculum, the material seems more relevant and easier to care about. We need to create more pipelines for teachers whose lived experience is similar to that of our students, and we need more classes that will teach the history and importance of Latinx and other nonwhite communities in our society. Those two things will help keep our students engaged from PreK to 12, and empower them to become leaders in our community and beyond.